“Intimate” and “personal” is how most Christians would describe their relationship with God. And no doubt it’s true. Jesus died for one as much as for all.
There’s much more to being a Christian than our personal relationship with God.
Did you know there are at least 59 “one another” commands in the New Testament? Each one emphasizes an aspect of how Christians should relate to each other. I called these commands out in my last post because unlike others listed there, I’m afraid we don’t appreciate the weight with which these commands were given.
Take “love one another” for instance. Twenty of those 59 “One Another” commands tell us to love one another. Let’s say that again. TWENTY of the 59 One Another commands—more than a third—tell us to love one another. What’s more, when describing the greatest commands, Jesus placed loving others on equal footing with loving God. Let that sink in.
Over and over we see this command to love each other. And it’s not in the context of being nice or merely as an “ought to do.” It is solidly linked to our salvation. John even asks how the love of God can be in us if we do not love each other.
God is love. And if love is not in us then neither is God.
We know love is not optional. But do we consider a lack of love to be a sin? We expect the hard conversation to be had with someone struggling with alcohol, drugs, infidelity, pornography, or some other hard hitting issue. So why have we never had, or even heard of, a hard discussion with another Christian about their lack of love?
Perhaps it’s because when we describe our relationship with God as personal and intimate, we put a period there. Our culture places a premium on self-sufficiency as a trait to be admired. As a result, we tend to view our relationship with God apart from our relationship with everyone else.
An individual Christian existence stands in rebellion to God’s commands.
But we aren’t meant to go it alone. We’re not made to be individual silos who happen to be in the same place every Sunday morning. And it’s no accident the Church is described as a family over and over again in the New Testament. Jesus didn’t pray for unity among the believers knowing it wouldn’t happen.
What he expected was the world to be blown away by our relationships with one another. He said our love for one another will be proof we are his disciples and through our unity the world will believe in him.
The success of our mission depends solely upon our love for each other.
The proof that will stun the world is not a rock-star pastor. Not a killer worship leader. Not a 100-member choir. Not smoke machines or lighting. Not outstanding children’s programs. Not a beautiful building. Not an online presence. Not hymns. Not contemporary music. Not celebrity speakers. Not special events. Not million dollar budgets. Not miracles, signs, or wonders. Not standing-room-only on Sunday morning.
Only our unity and love for each other as we journey through brokenness together will impact the world for Jesus. The world needs to see love, forgiveness, and compassion in action, not merely preached from the pulpit. Only then will they believe it is possible. A strategy based on anything else will fail.
An intimate and personal relationship with God is the starting point. But it’s our love for each other that invites the world to join with us.
Below are the “59 One Anothers.” Take a moment and read them aloud if possible. And remember there is no way to fulfill any of these commands if there is no “other.” We are the literal family of God.
- “…Be at peace with each other.” (Mark 9:50)
- “…Wash one another’s feet.” (John 13:14)
- “…Love one another…” (John 13:34)
- “…Love one another…” (John 13:34)
- “…Love one another…” (John 13:35)
- “…Love one another…” (John 15:12)
- “…Love one another” (John 15:17)
- “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love…” (Romans 12:10)
- “…Honor one another above yourselves. (Romans 12:10)
- “Live in harmony with one another…” (Romans 12:16)
- “…Love one another…” (Romans 13:8)
- “…Stop passing judgment on one another.” (Romans 14:13)
- “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you…” (Romans 15:7)
- “…Instruct one another.” (Romans 15:14)
- “Greet one another with a holy kiss…” (Romans 16:16)
- “…When you come together to eat, wait for each other.” (I Cor. 11:33)
- “…Have equal concern for each other.” (I Corinthians 12:25)
- “…Greet one another with a holy kiss.” (I Corinthians 16:20)
- “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” (II Corinthians 13:12)
- “…Serve one another in love” (Galatians 5:13)
- “If you keep on biting and devouring each other…you will be destroyed by each other.” (Galatians 5:15)
- “Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” (Galatians 5:26)
- “Carry each other’s burdens…” (Galatians 6:2)
- “…Be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2)
- “Be kind and compassionate to one another…” (Ephesians 4:32)
- “…Forgiving each other…” (Ephesians 4:32)
- “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.” (Ephesians 5:19)
- “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21)
- “…In humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)
- “Do not lie to each other…” (Colossians 3:9)
- “Bear with each other…” (Colossians 3:13)
- “…Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.” (Colossians 3:13)
- “Teach…[one another]” (Colossians 3:16)
- “…Admonish one another” Colossians 3:16)
- “…Make your love increase and overflow for each other.” (I Thessalonians 3:12)
- “…Love each other.” (I Thessalonians 4:9)
- “…Encourage each other…”(I Thessalonians 4:18)
- “…Encourage each other…” I Thessalonians 5:11)
- “…Build each other up…” (I Thessalonians 5:11)
- “Encourage one another daily…” Hebrews 3:13)
- “…Spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:24)
- “…Encourage one another.” (Hebrews 10:25)
- “…Do not slander one another.” (James 4:11)
- “Don’t grumble against each other…” (James 5:9)
- “Confess your sins to each other…” (James 5:16)
- “…Pray for each other.” (James 5:16)
- “Love one another deeply, from the heart” (I Peter 3:8)
- “Live in harmony with one another…” (I Peter 3:8)
- “…Love each other deeply…” (I Peter 4:8)
- “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling” (I Peter 4:9)
- “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others…” (I Peter 4:10)
- “…Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another…”(I Peter 5:5)
- “Greet one another with a kiss of love” (I Peter 5:14)
- “…Love one another.” (I John 3:11)
- “…Love one another.” (I John 3:23)
- “…Love one another.” (I John 4:7)
- “…Love one another.” (I John 4:11)
- “…Love one another.” (I John 4:12)
- “…Love one another.” (II John 5)
*From Carl F. George, Prepare Your Church for the Future (Tarrytown: Revell, 1991), 129-131.